Israeli plan to expand settlement of Ramot would confiscate 419 dunams of lands belonging to Palestinian villages

Plan substantially changes demographic fabric in the area, violates IHL by transferring civilian groups from occupying power to occupied areas.

On 1 May 2016, Adalah, in cooperation with the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, and on behalf of the "Sons of Lifta Society – Jerusalem" and refugees of Lifta, and on behalf of the village council of Beit Iksa, submitted two objections to the Committee for Preferential Housing Planning demanding the repeal of a plan to expand the settlement of "Ramot" by adding 1,435 housing units, 240 "specially designated" housing units, commercial areas and public buildings. This new construction, according to the plan, would be undertaken on 419 dunams of land, the majority of which constitutes the historical lands of the uprooted and displaced village of Lifta in Jerusalem and the lands of Beit Iksa, a Palestinian village in the West Bank.


Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany argued in the objections that the plan deals with an area located on occupied territory and must therefore be annulled: "International humanitarian law (IHL) holds Israel responsible, as the occupying power, for providing for the basic needs of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories, without making drastic changes to these areas and without confiscating occupied land for political purposes. This plan would confiscate occupied Palestinian territories and thus violate the rights of the Palestinian refugees of Lifta and the residents of Beit Iksa, as it is being undertaken for illegitimate political objectives. This plan substantially changes the demographic fabric in the region by expanding the settlement of Ramot and by transferring civilian groups from the occupying power to the occupied areas, which fundamentally contradicts IHL."


In the objection filed on behalf of the Beit Iksa Village Council, Attorney Bishara emphasized that this plan is a "continuation of the building policy in the territories occupied in 1967, which is an illegal policy. The plan envisions building on a Palestinian village [Beit Iksa] that is home to 2,500 people and is located on Palestinian territory. There is nothing in the plan that offers the residents any services or meets any of their needs, however, it prevents the residents’ use of these areas for the purposes of their own agricultural or economic development or for establishing new residential buildings in the future."


In the objection filed concerning Lifta, Attorneys Bishara and Morany showed how the plan ignores the rights of the displaced people to their historic lands: "This plan seeks to build housing units that will be sold to specific private individuals, and this effectively denies the right of refugees to their land, despite the special legal, historical and political status of this property." The objection cited Article 46 of the Hague Regulations (1907) on the laws of war, pursuant to which the occupying power is required to respect the right to private property and to prevent definitively the confiscation of these properties. The objection emphasized that, "The laws of war apply to the War of 1948, which made the Palestinians refugees, and therefore these laws guarantee the refugees their right to their property."


In addition, the two objections argued that the plan severely violates the fundamental rights of Lifta's refugees and Beit Iksa's villagers by finally confiscating the large remaining areas of Lifta and Beit Iksa's lands, and by giving absolute preference to the interests of the occupying power. Attorneys Bishara and Morany stated: "in view of the illegality of the plan in the first place, [expanding settlements on these lands] is clearly a violation of the [Palestinians'] right to property."


Citation: Objection to Tamal - Committee for Preferential Housing Treatment, Plan 1012 (Expanding Ramot).